Saturday, August 14, 2010
So, this particular update was interrupted by a phone call from Todd while I was typing it. So, midway through the update the update changes direction. I did not send out an update the day before and as a result some of the family members here got a little concerned and contacted me. So, the beginning of the update reflects that also. Enjoy these great stories...
I'm so sorry that I didn't get an update sent yesterday. Everything is fine in Guatemala with the team. They've all been working steadily on the same things over the past few days.
The team had the chance to see, and receive an update from Juan Diego (the family that they built the home for last year)!! What a great experience to be able to see him and his family again.
They also had the opportunity to go to a wedding yesterday!!! Pastor Luis, and another pastor he works with, performed the ceremony and Tony played music and sang. I'm sure that the couple getting married had no idea that a team of Americans, on a week long mission trip, would attend their wedding. I'm not sure what the appropriate attire is for a wedding in Guatemala...
(Side note: after returning home, Todd told me that the couple had been living together and that Pastor Luis had spoken with them several times about their situation being against God's will and plan for their lives. So, they got married!! Hallelujah!!)
They also attended the commissioning of a new church in a city that, until now, has been unable to have Evangelical Christian Church. Up until now, the only church presence was that of the Catholic church, and they had prevented other churches from coming. Todd mentioned that as recent as 20 years ago it was illegal to have a Bible in this city. If found with one, they would be imprisoned.
When I talked with him earlier today he told me that everyone was tired. So, I would guess that the week is beginning to catch up with them. Please pray for strength and continued good health as they bring this week to a close.
Oh, Oh, Oh, Todd's just called.... (The info below was typed as he talked, but seriously, there was SO MUCH MORE!! I just couldn't listen, type and respond all at the same time. I've got a serious headache, so my brain's not really working as well as it should.)
They went back to Santa Clara today to do the Bible studies with the women and children. He said that when they arrived it was immediately obvious that word had spread throughout the town and surrounding towns. The city was packed, Todd said that there were children in the streets, children packed into the church building, children everywhere!! He estimated there were between 300-400 children!!! He said it was absolute mahem! They knew that the team was coming back to do the children's Bible study again today and they were there waiting for them when the team arrived.
He shared a particular story that was so precious... Yesterday they shared the plan of salvation and helped the children to make the bracelets with the colors that represent it. One young boy had a particularly difficult time with it (I think maybe with remembering what each color stood for). They worked with him until he knew it. Today, he was going to the other children and sharing the plan of salvation with them using the bracelet!! Truly our people have already seen the fruits of their labor in Guatemala with this one precious disciple who is reaching out now to make disciples himself. It makes me want to cry, with joy.
The team took with them 74 Spanish Bibles and they have given them out throughout the week to women at the Bible study and to the men of the churches there.
Everyone went back t Juan Antonio and Clara's house today to bring them the gifts they'd purchased in the market. He invited everyone in to pray and the team gave them the things they'd purchased for their home (plates, cups and other household items, along with some legos for the kids). Santa Clara is known for its basket making and Juan Antonio had baskets waiting for them. He had 24 to give to the group members, but there are 25 in the group. I'm not sure who gave theirs up, but Todd said sometime later, when they were in town at the church, they saw Juan walking up the road, he was carrying the 25th basket.
When asked, "How can we pray for you?" The pastor of the local church shared that they were out growing their building, would we please ask God to provide them with a larger meeting place. What a great problem for a young church to have. So, we will be praying for that need, and I ask that you all would do so as well.
They cannot go into Pajahajel to the market there this year because of the storms and mudslides. Instead they will be visiting Antigua tomorrow to do some souvenir shopping before coming home on Sunday. I can't believe the week is coming to a close already, and yet I am so glad that the other half of my family will be coming home soon. I know that you all feel the same way about your family and friends as well.
The team has some specific prayer needs. Melissa J is having neck pain, the same that kept them from making the trip this time last year. Please pray for her that the Lord will ease her pain, and help her as she travels back to the states. Also, Brian P. has come down with some sort of really bad stomach bug, so please be praying for him too.
The one thing that Todd has continued to say is this, "It's the same church!! It's the Lord's church, they just speak a different language and meet in a different country." Throughout the week, that is what the Lord has shown him as he experienced what he has referred to as "sweet fellowship" with believers abroad. I am so thankful for the time of spiritual refreshment he has experienced this week and can't wait to hear all of the stories he couldn't think to tell me in our brief chats throughout the day. I'm sure Anna will have so many of her own to share as well.
As for me, my little Guatemalan on the home front put her pajamas on all by herself tonight!!! :o) Yay!!
Love to you all, in Christ our Lord,
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Hope this evening, or morning if you're reading this tomorrow, finds you all doing well.
Today in Guatemala: the men finished the house and got it roofed!! Unbelievable! Todd said they were held up 2 hours in a horrific traffic jam because of a large rock in the road. I'm assuming from a rock slide??
The women and children continued their respective Bible studies.
Once the men completed the house they went into town to the church in Santa Clara to meet with the men of the church there. Todd said they found them discouraged. I'm unsure why exactly. They spent time with them reading scripture, praying and singing songs together. Todd said that it was such a sweet time of fellowship. He shared that it was an amazing experience to worship with people from another nation, knowing that they were all worshiping the same - one true - God.
He said that as the ladies and children begin to wrap up their studies this week , they plan to meet with the men again tomorrow to continue to build their faith and give them encouragement.
Please pray for these church leaders.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Today they began building the house for the family is this area. Once construction begins, the children and women of the city begin to come out into the streets to see what's going on. Todd said that our children (those who went on the trip) were playing with the Guatemalan children out in the streets, and telling them that they would be having a Bible school starting tomorrow. The ladies will begin a lady's Bible study with our women. The building of the home brings the locals out into the streets and makes it easy to begin sharing what the plans are for the women and children as the men help to build.
Two other things Todd shared with me today: Anna had her hair braided by the locals, and one of the Jones' girls (who attended a ballet camp recently) was showing the girls there how to do ballet!
I'll check back with you when I know anything new.
Your Guatemalan Mission trip liaison,
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Because of our business, Todd and I have to be in contact with one another throughout the day so that he can keep things running here by phone. I don't like for them to be gone and I most certainly do not like running a plumbing company. It's a week when the days can start out smooth and take a turn for the worse in about 2 minutes flat. Todd always leaves a schedule for the guys to know where he wants them, and when. He figures about how much time each job will take and schedules accordingly.
So, the guys arrive and load their trucks at 7, leave the shop about 7:30, and off they go. Once they arrive there are dozens of things that can go wrong, throwing a wrench in the entire day or even the whole week: the supplies that were supposed to be delivered aren't there, they don't have the right parts on their truck, the home is locked up, the job isn't ready, etc...
I can tell you that as much as I want them to go and share Christ there, I do not enjoy the week they are gone, or the few weeks preceding their departure. There are days and days and hours on end of preparation involved in leaving the country, even more so when you are leaving a business behind that's expected to run while you are gone. The items you have to pack when you are leaving to go on a trip out of the country is long enough, but when you are going to an area that doesn't have clean water, sanitation, or the basic things we consider to be necessities, the packing list gets even longer.
Their time in Guatemala is always wonderful. There are many stories I want to share with you all from this trip. Some of the stories I sent out to the families and friends of those who were also on the trip. I am always the unofficial "liaison" between the members of the mission team and those they leave here in the states, so I'm going to share with you all those emails and then I will sprinkle in a few other stories that Anna and Todd have shared with me since they've been back home.
Abiding in His grace,
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Over the last few weeks we have been on two major trips back to back. One was to the beach for a week and the other to Gatlinburg with Anna for her National dance competition. I didn't want to post about our trips, upcoming or while we were away, because I don't know who reads this. I know that those of you who know me closely knew we were away, but for the rest of the internet world I didn't wish to announce it, if you know what I mean.
So, first we went to the beach for a much needed family vacation. It took Todd about 3-1/2 days to decompress enough to relax and begin enjoying our time there. Anna was able to carry a friend with her this year, which was a first and a real treat. I'm uploading a picture of the two at the beach, WOW - what a difference a year makes! That is all I can say about that! Just scan down the page and look for the picture of Anna at the beach last year sitting in the red leather chair. It's amazing what a year can do, huh? This year, we are minus the glasses (exchanged for contacts) and braces (Nice straight teeth and beautiful smile and I have a great Orthodontist recommendation if you live in our area.). She is growing into a beautiful young lady who has such a good head on her shoulders and we are so proud of her. I stand amazed at what the Lord can do!
As for the Nexstar Nationals competition in Gatlinburg, her trio received a "high gold" award and scored 3rd overall in their age division. The girls really did a fantastic job! We were so proud of them.
Now an update on my broken leg, I have hobbled along through each of our trips. I was unable to do the sand this year at the beach, needed a wheelchair at the Outlet mall and really hurt myself on some stairs, but I am officially off crutches and using an ASO brace!! Yay! (I have the name of a really great orthopedic too should you need a recommendation. He's part of the Andrew's Sports Medicine group at St. Vincent's Hospital and he did a really good job.) My leg has healed really well, and I'm in physical therapy working to get back full use.
Next up is the annual trip that Todd and Anna go on to Guatemala to do missions work. This year Anna will be helping with the children's VBS for an estimated 225 (!!!) children and Todd will be involved with building another home. For those of you who'd like to read about their trip from last year, visit this link for more info http://homeforhim.blogspot.com/2009/07/on-mission-to-guatemala.html . Our Pastor is going with them this year and I know he will be so blessed by the opportunity. I will send updates as they arrive in Guatemala and begin their journey there. In the meantime, please be in prayer for the safe travel of their team and that the Lord will prepare the hearts of the people to receive His love as they show it to these precious people.
Our family has such a love for the people of Guatemala. We are so thankful to have been blessed by the Lord with the gift of a precious child born there. It is so sad that they will be unable to share this amazing part of our lives with so many they will meet in Guatemala because they do not understand our motivation for adopting one of their natives. Many there think that we put our internationally adopted children in the wars overseas to fight for us, some countries (though not specifically Guatemala) believe that their children are adopted by rich Americans to use as organ donors for their biological children who are ill. It is unfathomable to me the things that they have been told, the superstitions that they have been deceived by. I can not understand the evils they believe we would perpetrate against these precious children, and yet I know that evils are perpetrated against children all over the world every day. Sarah is so precious to us, I just can't imagine. Anyway, one of the things our team was asked to bring with them was a picture of their own family, this is something that they can use as they talk to those in Guatemala. It allows these people to see them with their own families, to have a way to relate and to see that they too have people whom they love dearly. Todd and Anna will only be able to share our family photo with a select few - as the Lord leads.
Enjoy the beach photos to your right and thank you to our special beach guest, Giann, for taking them!!
Abiding in His grace and hoping that I'm settling back into the blogosphere,
Without further ado, here's the photo, Anna (on the left) with Giann (on the right, duh)
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
My next installment of quotes from and thoughts on the book Secrets of the Secret Place are from the chapter The Secret of Inviting His Gaze. Words in red bold italics are from the scriptures, and words in italics only are from the book. Words printed this way, in regular font, are my own words and thoughts. The song above was contributed by Anna to go along with this. If you'd like, listen to and enjoy the song while reading this post.
"The LORD is in His holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup. For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; His countenance beholds the upright. (Psalm 11:4-7)
"God scrutinizes mankind with focused intensity. He cares intensely for us and about us. He studies our responses and weighs our attitudes. He is vitally concerned over our welfare and is committed to judging us justly for every word and deed."
Personally, I am very concerned about my own words. My hearts desire is that of David when he expressed "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14) I have been "accused" of being to sensitive, stuffy, or too concerned about the use of certain words. The truth is I am very concerned, very sensitive, call me stuffy - I really don't care. When I read scriptures like "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 'But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.'" (Matthew 12:35-37) I find myself especially concerned. So, yea, I'm very defensive when it comes to my own words, and the words of those the Lord has entrusted to my care (my children). And I wonder why others do not take it as seriously. The Word would seem to indicate that it IS serious to God!
Before I was born again, there was no word off limits of crossing my lips. I used them all then, prior to my spiritual rebirth, and I used them frequently. I remember when I was first converted that I immediately could not use those words. I did not even want to refer to them, and when someone else used them the Holy Spirit within me would cringe, I would be embarrassed. I couldn't stand it then, and I can not stand it now almost 20 years later. Does this make me odd? Strange? Too sensitive? Holy? Do those who would speak this way, and condemn me for being "judgemental" of their speech actually stand in judgment of me?
"The Lord has said to us, 'But on this one will I look; on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word!' (Isaiah 66:2) When I read those words my heart moves within me. 'That's me, Lord, I'm poor and contrite, and I tremble at Your word. Oh that You would look upon me in this way!'
"God is on a holy search, 'for the eyes of the LORD run to and from throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.' (2 Chronicles 16:9)"
... He is testing you to see if your heart will remain loyal to Him through the scrutiny. If you persevere, He designs to show Himself strong on your behalf.
....The Lord is patient with us, however, and He gives us time to process and adjust. Over time, the saint slowly begins to realize that the alternative is far worse.
Oh the horror of God turning His eyes away from us! It was an awful declaration of judgment when God said, "I will hide My face from them" (Deuteronomy 32:20)...
... When my mind wanders from a conscious focus upon the Lord, and I am distracted by the affairs of everyday life, upon returning to Christ in my thoughts comes this awesome realization: He was there all along, waiting for my thoughts to return to Him! He is never disconnected or distracted away from me, not even for a split second. ... THANK YOU LORD!!
What can I say to such kindness, Lord? Here is my simple prayer: "Look upon me and be merciful to me, as Your custom is toward those who love Your name." (Psalm 119:132)." I pray that as I use words that are hurtful, unholy, angry or impatient that the Lord will indeed show mercy and grace towards me. And, I pray that I too will be merciful to others when they do the same.
Abiding in that amazing grace,
Friday, June 4, 2010
Today's post is from the chapter, The Secret of Buying Gold.
"I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich." Revelation 3:18
"What is this gold that enriches us? It's the gold of authentically-produced godly character, it's Christlikeness. ...
To de-mistify this thing, let me describe very clearly the process whereby we buy 'gold refined by fire.' First comes the fire. By fire, I am talking about tribulation or affliction or distress or calamity or persecution. ... You don't have to wonder or imagine whether you're in the fire. When the fire hits your life, you will know it! You will lose control, your pain levels will skyrocket, and your desperation for God will intensify. Your flesh will want to collapse and give up, but since your spirit is alive to the beauties of Christ, the fire will be used of God to drive you into the face of Christ like never before. Instead of giving up, you'll run even harder! Your primary source of sanity in the midst of the fire will be your secret place, where the Spirit will soothe your tortured soul and the word will sustain your hope and faith.
... you will begin to see areas of your heart and soul that have been out of alignment with God's ways and will. As you see those things, you are so desperate for God you gladly and diligently do business with Him, repenting and considering deeply how to change and adopt new patterns of thought, behavior, and motive. As you embrace the changes that God's Spirit inspires within you, you are actually becoming more like Jesus. Or to put it another way, you're buying gold in the fire.
It says we "buy" this gold because the pricetag is steep. ...
The fire has a way of making you a doer of the word and not just a hearer only. You become desperate for a word from God, and then when it comes, you cling to it like it's your very life source. ... then something amazing happens. When you share with others how the word mirrored your own shortcomings and how you became a doer of the word in the midst of the fire, your witness will have a profound effect upon your hearers. They will be fed by your witness of what has fed you.
The secret place is the only way you'll survive the fire. And the secret of the thing is, God's word flowing into you will not only enable you to survive, it will empower you to overcome and buy eternal treasure. ... God has great understanding into this powerful little secret, which is why He is merciful enough to send the fire in answer to your prayers. If you will cry to Him from the depths of your being, He will send exactly the right kind of fire you need at this moment in your journey. This fire will press you into the mirror of His word that you might begin to buy the gold of "refined character."
There are days when I feel as if surely I must have a stockpile of gold simply because of the troubles I've seen in my own life. Then I think of those who live in persecuted nations of the world, those who were burned alive or otherwise martyred for their allegiance and faith in Christ. I think of those who this very moment are starving to death while I just finished eating plenty for dinner and will later on enjoy some cake I made today. I think of those who've lost multiple children, not just one - though even the one is a horrifying event in one's life.
Most of all I pray that, as I go through the fire, I will throw myself into the arms of my God, cling to His word, press myself into Him, that I may be changed. I desire to be transformed into something that brings glory to my God. I pray that I will not become embittered because of the trials, but that as I share with others how the word mirrored my own shortcomings and how I became a doer of the word in the midst of the fire, that my witness will have a profound effect upon my hearers. That they will be fed by my witness of what has fed me.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I hope that you all are enjoying these segments from this book. I'm surely enjoying reading it. Please leave your thoughts and comments. Next up, The Secret of Inviting His Gaze, and Anna has another song to go along with that one.
Abiding in His grace,
Hola, everybody! Here's a song to go along with THIS post (sorry I couldn't find a video, you'll just have to read the lyrics)...
"Consume Me" by Tenth Avenue North:
Walking down the dusty road
Though weak I thought I was so strong
Trying to make it one my own
I keep tripping on my clumsy feet
Look here at the mess I made of me
When you pulled me from the mud and clay
Yeah so you fill me anyway
But you hold me anyways
And I said...
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Bring and purify me let me glorify your name
Until only your love remains
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Yeah wash away my empty past
Until only your love remains
Love remains ... 'til only your love remains
22 years passed me by
22 years I sat and cried
Living by sight and not by faith
Oh Lord you wont despise
Forgiving me so many times
When I turned and I walked away
Yeah but you turned me around when I humbled myself to pray
And I say...
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Bring and purify me let me glorify your name
Until only your love remains
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Yeah wash away my empty past
Until only your love remains
Love remains... Only your love remains
Amazing grace just rain on me today
Yeah forgive me as I'm giving my heart
To you to you to you
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Bring and purify me let me glorify your name
Until only your love remains
Consume me with your fire
Cleanse me with your rain
Yeah wash away my empty past
Until only your love remains
Love remains... Only your love remains
I hope y'all like it!
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Before I start tonight, I'd like to bring your attention to some things that are going on in Guatemala currently. Over the last week or so, they have experienced the eruption of one of their many volcanoes. Homes, business are closed if not totally lost. This is also the rainy season in Guatemala. So, they are also experiencing mudslides, flooding and other horrific circumstances.
The Lord alone knows their needs and will prick the hearts of His people to care for the people of Guatemala as we are able. Part of my family is planning to return to Guatemala on a mission trip in late July, so we are praying that much clean up effort has been done so that they can get into the towns and villages to minister to these hurting people.
I shared earlier some thoughts and quotes from the book Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge. I am continuing to read through the last half of this book, and every day I come across thoughts that make me think, "Oh, that's good. I've got to share this!"
So, here I am, to share some more thoughts. I decided that I would post them as I read through the book and come across things that really give me pause to think, or that I wanted to return to and read again sometime. I highly recommend this to any of you who have enjoyed the quotes I've shared from this series. This is a devotional type reading book, and it is not gender specific so you guys our there should like it just as well too.
From the chapter, "The Secret of Holiness" -
"'The Lord has said, "He who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me' (Psalm 101:6) This is not referring to sinless perfection, but rather to a blameless lifestyle that is not subject to reproach or criticism by those who live closest to you.
... Holiness is not an inherent quality we carry; it is a derived quality that we take on. Holiness has but one source, the Holy One. Holiness has to do with proximity to the throne. The seraphim are called "holy ones," not because of who they are but because of where they are. They are "holy ones" because they live in the immediate presence of the Holy One! I am holy only to the extent that I abide in His holy presence."
Anna selected the above video from Chris Tomlin singing Holy is The Lord. I hope that you will enjoy it.
Will share more again soon,
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It includes frightening "snipets" that make you go hmmmm.... why did people elect him as our President? I can hardly bare to utter his name after that title... President _______________.
I know that the Lord is in command of our leaders and their election, but I can't help but ask Him, "Why Lord?" In scripture it shows that the leaders are at times appointed in judgement of a country. We are certainly worthy of His judgement, and yet instead He continues to lavish His grace and mercy upon us.
In the time of King Nebuchadnezzer, Daniel 4:32b and 35 says, "'The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.' All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him 'What have You done?'"
Holding my breath until the next presidential elections, and still waiting on my leg to heal,
Friday, May 21, 2010
On the Saturday following the surgery on my leg to repair the breaks I told Todd that I hadn't really cried since I'd broken it, but I could feel that there was a really good cry in there somewhere. I didn't know when the cry would come, but I knew it was coming sooner or later. Having just recently found some true relief for my back, I'd begun walking each day. I had the hopes of losing the weight I gained over the course of my first injury and surgery.
The following excerpts are from the chapter titled The Secret of Tears.
"Of the seven psalms that refer to tears, three are attributed to David's pen. The man who had an absolutely sincere secret life with God was a man of tears. David cried, 'Do not be silent at my tears' (Psalm 39:12) as though his tears commended his sincerity to God. Clearly tears are not for women only. Another psalmist expressed the sincerity of his cry by pointing to his tears: 'My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, 'Where is your God?'"
I have experienced the tears that have been my “food day and night.” When Kathryn died, I spent many hours crying. I felt like those who knew we were Believers, and were not themselves, were thinking to themselves, “Where is your God?” Here we were teaching in our church, known by everyone in our little country church, and friends with many who were unsaved in our community. Wherever we looked, our brothers and sisters in Christ seemed to be saying “Where is OUR God?” They were feeling our loss as well to some degree, unable to understand or comprehend why the Father had not answered the prayers of those who had cried out on behalf of our baby. I understand this type of tears because I have experienced them and remember that sorrow all to well – as if it were only yesterday.
But, what about this cry that was coming, after I realized I’d broken my leg, been admitted and was scheduled for surgery the next morning? It’s interesting that I didn’t cry before, except from the pain when I first broke the leg. The cry that was coming was of a different kind, I knew that, but I didn’t fully understand it, until I began reading this chapter. It came on it's own timing, and was an uncontrollable sobbing.
"We cry because we desire or because we're in pain; so tears are the language of desire. We desire Him, even to tears. If we lack the desire, He will cultivate it within us by seemingly withdrawing from us His mercy. It's famine that makes us hungry; it's drought that makes us thirsty. Deprivation produces desire."
Do not despise the pain that gave you the tears. Pour out your heart to Him; God is a refuge for us! Those who "love much" still wash the Lord's feet with their tears. (Luke 7:36-48)
So, what about the tears I shed that Saturday afternoon? Those were a different type. I was frustrated and confused. I know that God works "all things together for the good of those that love Him, those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28) I understand fully His Sovereign grace and His abundant provision. So what type of tears were these? Why was I crying, I really didn't understand, I just knew that I was going to experience a time of crying during all of this.
The tears I succumbed to that day were all together different. I knew that, but I didn't know how to express that yet. The Lord began to show me through the book I was reading..
"There are two kinds of sickness in the Bible that produce tears. The first is mentioned in Proverbs 13:12, 'Hope deferred makes the heart sick.' When the hope of God's deliverance is deferred, the heart grows sick. This heartsickness produces a groaning from the depths of the spirit and is expressed in tears. These are the tears of the brokenhearted, and they are not despised by God. Heartsickness cries, 'Oh God, visit me! Come to me in Your power and fulfill Your word in my life!'"
"Heartsickness is the product of unrequited power; lovesickness is the consequence of unrequited love. David articulated both passions when, during his years of hiding in the wilderness, he cried, 'So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory' (Psalm 63:12). Heartsickness weeps, 'Show me Your hand!' Lovesickness weeps, 'Show me Your face!'"
That is when it dawned on me! That's what it was - hope deferred! I had just finally started feeling better after another procedure on my back. I'd been out and walked in the beautiful spring weather the 3 days before I fell, readying myself for the work involved in losing the weight I've put on in the last 2 years. When, lo and behold, I step just the right way on a curb to turn over my ankle and break the bones in my lower leg. "What?!!? Are you kidding me Lord? This can't be happening? I'm finally feeling better? Why now? How is this going to be for my good, and the good of those in my family who have to depend on me for their most basic needs? How is this going to bring you glory?" I was heart sick, and I didn't see how that was going to help me to glorify God. But here I sit at my computer, hoping that this blog post reaches someone who feels a sickness today. I encourage you with these words from the paragraph quoted above: if you are heartsick, weep "Show me Your hand!", and if you are lovesick weep, "Show me Your face!"
So I invite you, if you feel either of these two ways - lovesick or heartsick, seek the Lord in prayer and through your tears. Indeed God is everywhere... even in our tears.
Abiding in Him, along with you all,
Friday, May 14, 2010
I got the hard cast off yesterday. They took x-rays and finally the doctor came in to see me. He said that my leg had healed "Remarkably well, in a remarkably short period of time." I let him know that it was due to the "saint sitting in the corner" referring to mom. I know people are probably tired of my saying that I don't know what we would have done without her, but it is so true!!
It's kind of ironic, because I was basically a real pain in the rear growing up. If anyone had ever said that I'd end up living next door to my parents after I was grown and married with kids, I'd have thought they were out of their mind! And yet, here we are, closer than ever. It is amazing to me all that the Lord can restore when we are His. We are so blessed!
Anyway, I got a black boot that looks like something out of the "Transformers" stuff. Sarah asked if I was going to ride a horse, and I told her I would need a second boot to go with this one and that they'd have to be a little different! This one has a really tall, weird heel on it, lots of velcro straps, and a pump up air thing inside of it. I can take it off to shower, and to sleep, which is really nice. But... I have to continue to stay off of it working up to a little weight every few days not to exceed half of my body weight at any time. Try figuring out how to do that correctly? Mother and I tried all the way home to figure out exactly what that means.
Anyway, it will be this way while we are on our annual beach trip which doesn't really make me happy, but hey at least we have the opportunity to take a beach trip every year, right? We wouldn't go if it weren't free. So, we really do get a good opportunity.
Abiding in His hands,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tomorrow is my next follow-up appointment with my orthopedic surgeon about my broken leg. I am prayerful that I will get my cast off tomorrow, but the doctor hasn't said so. I would really like to hear that the leg is healing well and quickly (I have been very careful with it.), and that I am ready to move on to whatever the next step will be. I suspect it will be a hard boot, and I have no idea when I will start with physical therapy. If I get a boot tomorrow, I expect to have a good bit of pain. I have bumped the cast a couple of times and it's jarred my ankle and been quite painful. So... we'll see.
Huge shout out and thanks to my friend, Kristin, for taking care of my girls while mom and I go!!
Also, Anna went to the Orthodontist today and will finally get her braces off in 4 weeks!!! After 2 and a half years, she will finally have the beautiful smile that is metal free!! I know she will be really glad to get them off. She's also decided she wants to take on contacts too, so we'll see about that soon as well. She has changed SO much in the last couple of years, I can't believe what a beautiful young lady she is turning out to be - both inside and out! The Lord has blessed me with two beautiful girls to raise for His glory. I pray that I do a job that is pleasing to HIM.
At Home For HIM, and abiding in His grace,
Monday, May 10, 2010
So, I am going to assume that either you all disagreed, couldn't relate, didn't have anything to say, or thought the post was so long that you just didn't take the time to read it. Who knows, anyway, I'm going to move on to another post soon.
Please know that I encourage any and all thoughtful posts - whether you agree or disagree with the topic or post. And, I NEED comments! I just need to know you're out there, that you are thinking about what you read, and that you've stopped by to read what's here. If you have no thoughts about the topic, just say "HI!" I know there are many "lurkers" out there, just by the counter going up and up.
So, the next and final post for now from the book Secrets of the Secret Place will come soon.
It will be The Secret of Tears.
Abiding in His grace,
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Now, I will also say that if I were to feel particularly drawn to a specific verse or passage used that I would take the time to read the scripture in context. On the other hand, I would also share with you that there have been times in my own life that I believe the Lord has "given me" a single scripture, or grouping of scriptures, in particular circumstances that applied to my situation and brought peace to my soul. So, as you read, read with this in mind.
The next installment from my short little excerpts here is from the chapter entitled The Secret of Waiting from Secrets of the Secret Place by: Bob Sorge.
So, during the time of my recovery from this broken leg, I am doing a lot of w*a*i*t*i*n*g, a whole lot of it. In the meantime, everyone around me is having to "wait on" me. That happens in a lot of ways. The first way that I'm "waited on" is by moving my pillows, my blanket, my drink, my cell phone, the home phone, any book I'm reading or puzzle book I'm working in everytime I move from the bedroom to the family room and back again, fixing and bringing me every meal and drink I need, helping me wash my hair, etc... The other way that I'm waited on is different. Everyone has to wait on me to get up or down the stairs of our front stoop to get into the van, get from point A to point B when we go to church and of course lunch afterwards, get into the doctor's office for appointments and things like that. So, there's an awful lot of waiting going on around here right now. They are all waiting for me to get well and things to get back to "normal" whatever that is. :o)
So, here are our excerpts for today:
"The closer you get to God, the more you realize He's in no hurry. There is no frenetic hurrying in heaven, only calculated purpose. "Whoever believes will not act hastily" (Isaiah 28:16). Those who step into God's time zone will not allow urgent matters to press them into acting too quickly and getting ahead of God." This is a truth that I learned personally many years ago, and I am so thankful. You see, when you know this truth it keeps you from rushing headlong into bad decisions. There's no reason to make quick decisions about purchases for fear that someone else might beat you to it. If the Lord wants you to have that .... outfit, car, house ... it will be there when the time is right for you to buy it. Those of you who are single adults God has the perfect timing in regards to your spouse, or lack there of. Don't run into a marriage that isn't His plan, you don't have to run about seeking the "one" to be with, He's already got that taken care of, just wait on the Lord. There is really a lot of peace in the waiting once we learn that He is at work.
"One of the best descriptions of waiting on God is found in Psalm 123:2, 'Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us.' To wait on God is to stare at His hand. ... Waiting on God is not watching television until God chooses to move; waiting on God is attentively gazing upon Him with undistracted focus until He has mercy on us. And until He acts, we just wait on Him and love Him."
"Waiting on God may be the most difficult of all the spiritual disciplines, and perhaps that's the reason so few truly practice it. Just sitting in His presence and gazing... it can be agonizing to us who have become accustomed to being bombarded with data and stimuli. We lack the attention span to wait on God."
"'Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the LORD is a God of justice, blessed are all those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)" ... "the truth of Isaiah 30:18. When it says, 'The Lord will wait,' it doesn't mean that God is waiting for you to do something; it means that God is strategically delaying His miraculous visitation because He has greater things in store for you than you've even asked for. But to give you the fullness of what He has planned for your life, He will use the season of waiting to prepare you as a vessel, and also to prepare circumstances around your life so that you will be able to step forward into the proper sphere when His release comes to you. He's waiting so that He can crown you with an even greater blessing."
I can speak from my own life and say that the things I've wanted the absolute most in my life, have been greater than I could ever imagine when they actually came. The Lord had provided for me something far greater than I could have dreamed of. If I had run headlong towards what I thought I wanted, I would have postponed the greater thing because of not waiting on the Lord, and having peace in my decisions.
"Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14).
Waiting for my next Doctor's appointment,
Saturday, May 1, 2010
In the trials I have faced throughout my own personal life: the illness and death of our first child, the death of Todd's mother, Anna's health problems and surgery as a baby, the death of all of our living grandparents, twenty years of marriage - and the usual trials that brings, the death of my father, the adoption of a child, my own frustrating health problems and dibilitating accidents, etc... I have come to understand the following statement, perhaps more than some can. Our first statement from this chapter is this, "David said of the Lord, 'He made darkness His secret place' (Psalm 18:11). When the lights of understanding go out and you're plunged into emotional darkness, you are actually being issued an invitation into God's secret place. It's in the darkness where God meets in secret with His chosen ones."
You see our human nature and Satan's influence, cause us to think that when something bad - maybe even horrific - is going on in our lives that we are all alone. We feel like no one else on earth has ever felt THIS, whatever you're "THIS" is, but the scriptures tell us otherwise.
Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Ecclesiastes 1:9 "That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.”
Matthew 28:19-20, 'Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
At the time of our daughter's death in 1995, I could see no good thing that could come of that, I was in complete darkness, confused, and afraid. Now, 15 years later I could name dozens of the good things. I've come to embrace my God as He is, as He presents Himself boldly throughout His Word, in complete control of what comes into my life. As much as I wish I had my precious Kathryn Grace back to enjoy all of the things that would be important to her now, at 16, I wouldn't change anything. I have come to such a deeper place with God that I would not ever give up. Some of you have no idea what I'm talking about, maybe even think - "She's a loon!" Others of you understand perfectly.
Back to our book excerpts, "In His kindness, He dries up every other fountain that has nurtured your soul, that He might become your only fountain in the quietness of this cell. It's here you will learn to own the reality of Psalm 87:7, 'All my springs are in You.' Instead of being energized by projects, you will now become energized by a Person. Being with Him and in Him will become your criteria for success." and "David spoke of intimacy of the prison: 'You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.' (Psalm 139:5-6)"
The chapter closes with these words, and I will chose to end my post with them, so that you may be left alone with this thought, and with your God.
"Here's one of the secrets of darkness: He imprisons those He loves in order to awaken them in the secret place to mature bridal affections. Don't despise your chains, for they bind you to the heart of the One you long for. You are the prisoner of the Lord."
Abiding, with complete assurance, in these chains,
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
"It's easy to endure in the good times. It's when the hard times hit that our endurance is proven. When times get tough, it's tempting to neglect the secret place." I've said things quite similar to this myself...
- "Hardship can be embraced with joy, in my opinion, only when we understand God's purpose in the pain. 'My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience' (James 1:2-3). The only way to be joyful in trials is through "knowing" -- knowing God's purpose in it. How do we learn God's purposes in our sufferings? The secret pursuit of God in His word is what will reveal purpose to us."
- "One of the scriptural symbols for this process is pearl. Pearl is formed within an oyster which has experienced the distress of a foreign particle of sand getting stuck within its shell. Pearl represents the eternally valuable change God works within us in the place of hardship. There is nothing else that changes us quite so readily and profoundly as a devotion to the secret place in the midst of grueling hardship."
- "The longer the irritant resides within the oyster's shell, the more valuable the pearl becomes. Therefore, the formative value of tribulation is sometimes directly proportional to the duration of the crucible. The longer the distress, the more valuable the pearl. It is the confidence of this reality which empowers us to persevere with joy. When we endure in love through hardship, we qualify to enter the gates of pearl - for the only way to enter the eternal city is through the pearly gates of "treasure perfected in hardship."
Abiding with all the endurance I can muster,
Monday, April 26, 2010
AS DEEMED BY
THE BOARD FOR
Now then, I suppose some of y'all might need an explanation. So here's one:
Dogs lick EVERYTHING. They lick furniture, people, floors, themselves, ect. It's what they do. It's in their nature. Especially when it comes to Shih-tzus. The breed is well know for their never-ending licking, thus the following picture (think of this as visual explanation):
Now, back to the licker sign:
I thought it was funny. It's like comic relief. And, trust me, we needed it. =D
Love y'all and hope ya got a good laugh out of it,
I love blue jeans and trucks, but that's a whole other post...
My leg is about the same. I'm still elevating and icing, and getting really tired of it all. I just mark the days as they go by, striking through them on my calendar. Kind of boring. Don't really have anything exciting to say...
Anna is taking the California Achievement Test this week, so she is currently taking the Language Mechanics portion while Sarah watches Baby First t.v. which she sometimes enjoys. Right now is one of those times. Mom's gone to pick up a few things at the store, but will be back soon. I'm sure she enjoys the break from our crazy place.
We did venture out to church again yesterday which was nice. I enjoy seeing everyone and spending time in corporate worship, receiving Biblical instruction, and enjoying time with my brothers and sisters in Christ. And, of course, being a Baptist, you can't forget the lunch afterwards!! That is some of the sweetest fellowship time, as it should be.
During my devotional time I am reading through several books - I usually have one that is a scripture study and then one or two others that I'm reading related to spiritual growth. So, one of those is a book entitled Secrets of the Secret Place - Keys to Igniting Your Personal Time with God. (written by Bob Sorge) I got the idea to read this book from another book I read that quoted from this one.
Anyway, I just have to share with you the titles of some of the last few chapters I've read. They are so fitting for my current situation, you can't help but smile at God's providence. The current section is titled "Setting A Marathon Pace" and the last chapters I've read are:
- The Secret of Desperation (I'm feeling a little desperate these days.)
- The Secret of Manna Gathering (This one is based on the idea of living day by day, understanding that God's provision is daily, and not intended to be stored up - like the manna He sent to the Israelites.) Now here's where it just gets plain funny!
- The Secret of Enduring
- The Secret of Confinement
- The Secret of Waiting and
- The Secret of Tears
Here are a couple of the things I underlined as I read - they either stood out to me as important lessons to learn or ideas I already know and cherish. As I look through each chapter, WOW, it's hard to pick just a few. Maybe I should share a little each day for a few days.... hey that'll work!Okay, so here's the first set of quotes, from the chapter "The Secret of Manna Gathering."
- "When you're desperate for God, you become dependent on the daily sustaining power of His word. Your source of survival is your daily manna - feeding on the word of God. We know the manna of the wilderness was good for only one day; if kept over into the next day, it would rot (Exodus 16:12-31). It's still true that yesterday's feeding in the word will never sustain us for today. One of the primary functions of the secret place is to be fed afresh each day in His word."
- "Proverbs 16:26 says, "The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.' It's our hunger for the word that drives us into the secret place. When we are hungry spiritually, we are energized to labor in the word. A lack of hunger is a danger sign. When someone is sick, often the first symptom of their sickness is a loss of hunger. Those who lose their spiritual hunger need a medical exam, spiritually speaking."
- "Once you learn to feed yourself in the word, you are no longer upset when the Sunday sermon doesn't apply to your life. You weren't looking for the sermon to be your source of feeding and life anyways. If something in the sermon feeds you, you reckon it a bonus. You're no longer dependent on others to give you milk because now you are cutting off your own meat."
Tomorrow, excerpts from The Secret of Enduring.
And, Anna says, "Hello!" *waves*Abiding in His sovereignty with my big ol' broke leg,
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Say hello to one of the sweetest dogs ever. My baby. Her name's Jasmine. Most of y'all know her. She's adorable. She thinks she's real tough (which, when she acts like she is, is precious). She's a pretty good guard dog. She barks at everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Here's 4 things she barks at AT LEAST once a day:
- Cars that have been parked in the driveway for the last 24 hours.
- People walking.
- One of us ringing the doorbell
- Someone accidentally bumping up against a wall.
*sigh* She's crazy, but I love her like crazy.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I still have 4 weeks and 3 days until I see the Dr. again for another follow-up, and to hopefully get my cast off. After that, I don't know how long it will be until I can put weight back on this leg, and I will have a good deal of physical therapy ahead of me.
So, this morning I woke up just really feeling done with it all. I'm tired of going from the bed to the recliner, sending someone to get all of my pillows for propping, my drink, my cellphone, my blanket, etc... Then, back again several hours later. I'm tired of running into the walls with my crutches or walker when I try to get up and go to the bathroom. I'm tired of the pain involved when my foot swells and the incision presses against the inside of my hard cast.
I'm sick to death of being unable to just jump in and get a shower and wash my hair. I feel yucky, dirty, disgusting, and tired. Just plain tired of it all, and I've got a really long way to go still. I'm not even half way through this!
Worst of all, I'm tired of being at the mercy of everyone around me, and having to depend on everyone else to do what is my job.
Ah, but as Scarlett O'Hara would say, "I will worry about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day."
Abiding, and hanging in there, one hour at a time,
Thursday, April 8, 2010
The doctor put me in a hard cast (I chose black, because it goes with everything.) and I'm still on the restrictions of keeping the foot elevated, and iced, and putting no weight on it for 5 more weeks. I go back then to have it looked at it again. This is going to be a slow and gradual process I'm afraid. He said that while things were looking good, if I were to put any weight on the foot it would "fall apart".
So, I continue to sit, foot propped up on pillows, trying desperately not to feel like a horrific burden to my family and friends. I understand now how people with serious injuries can fall into deep depression or worse. It is very difficult, mentally, to have to depend on others for even your most basic needs.
Anyway, that's where we are now...
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
God vs. Satan
And God populated the Earth with broccoli and cauliflower and spinach and green and yellow vegetables of all kinds, so Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives.
And Satan created McDonald's.
And McDonald's brought forth the 99-cent double cheeseburger.
And Satan said to Man "You want fries with that?"
And Man said, "Super size them".
And Man gained pounds.
And God created the healthful yogurt,
that woman might keep her figure that Man found so fair.
And Satan froze the yogurt, and he brought forth chocolate,
nuts and brightly colored sprinkle candy to put on the yogurt.
And woman gained pounds.
And God said "Try my crispy fresh salad."
And Satan brought forth creamy dressings, bacon bits and shredded cheese.
And there was ice cream for dessert.
And Woman gained pounds.
And God said "I have sent you heart healthy vegetables and olive oil with which to cook them."
And Satan brought forth chicken-fried steak from Cracker Barrel so big it needed its own platter.
And Man gained pounds, and his bad cholesterol went through the roof.
And God brought forth running shoes,
and Man resolved to lose those extra pounds.
And Satan brought forth cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil
to change channels between ESPN and ESPN2.
And Man gained pounds.
And God said "You are running up the score, Devil."
And God brought forth the potato,
a vegetable naturally low in fat and brimming with nutrition.
And Satan peeled off the healthful skin and sliced the starchy center into chips and deep-fried them.
And he created sour cream dip also.
And Man clutched his remote control and ate the potato chips swaddled in cholesterol.
And Satan saw and said "It is good."
And Man went into cardiac arrest.
And God sighed and created quadruple by-pass surgery...
And Satan created HMOs...
Hope y'all liked it as much as we did!
~Anna/Blondy da gangsta
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Well, today marks the two year anniversary of the fall down our basement stairs. Two years of physical therapy, massage therapy, doctor's appointments, surgery, prayers, and lots of tears have passed.
This year, I decided I wouldn't be the "April Fool" who tried to carry too much down a flight of stairs while balancing a baby on one side and a large heavy diaper bag on the other. Instead of being this year's biggest "AF" I got started precisely one week early! Exactly one week before this year's April Fool's Day, I broke me leg!
Thought you'd all enjoy a picture of what Sarah affectionately refers to as my "BIG...BIG...BooBoo!!!" The second is a photo of my "old lady walker". Todd rubber banded a Wal-mart bag to the walker for me so I could take small things with me from point "a" to point "b". That's just sad....
Abiding in His grace, with my Big! Big! Foot!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I went into my (reasonably large) walk-in closet to get something, using my crutches, and..... FELL backwards!!! (I keep calling the crutches "stilts" for some weird reason. The word "stilts" is stuck in my brain and I can't seem to say "crutches" no matter how hard I try!! It's driving me crazy!!)
I lost my balance when I went to turn around and come back out and, about half-way into my turn around I fell. I hit the back of my head on the clothing rail on that side, but the clothes did help to slow my fall. I landed on the shoes in the floor. I don't think that I actually put any weight on the broken leg, but it did get quite a jarring.
So, I'm back to sitting with the pillows under my leg, and feeling a little like the foot is swollen inside the thing that is on my leg, which makes it quite uncomfortable, and painful too.
Guess I won't be going into the closet again for awhile, and I'll be back on the "old lady" walker.
Please continue praying for us all,
Sunday, March 28, 2010
*mumbles* Yep. Next time we’re gonna knock their socks off and leave their heads spinning...
*yells* Platinum, here we come!! WOO-HOO!!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
It looks like Anna will be filling in for me on the days when I don't have something to write. I am working on the third part of the Sovereignty series. This one is entitled He's In the Midst. I hope to have it up in the next couple of days. Until then, enjoy the latest post by Anna...
Abiding in His grace,
OH MY GOSH. Winter Jam was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!
Okay, so Sunday night I went to Winter Jam with a couple of friends (SweetTart and Indy/Panhead). It was ONE OF THE BEST NIGHTS EVER!!!!!!! The music was AMAZING!! They had Third Day, Newsboys, Newsong, Tenth Avenue North, Fireflight, Tony Nolan, Sidewalk Prophets, Robert Pierre, and Revive!!!! We (me and SweetTart) were jumping up and down, clapping, singing, and screaming like crazy people!! The result: a hoarse voice and stinging hands. But hey, I don’t care! It ROCKED!!
Happy Spring Break (to those of you that get one)!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Sarah decided that she wanted some milk in her cereal, so my mom got the milk out of the fridge and placed it on the table for a moment. Mom stepped back into the kitchen, leaving Sarah with the milk…yeeeeaaaah…bad idea.
Soooo, Sarah decided to “take matters into her own hands” and POUR THE MILK ALL BY HERSELF. What comes next? A “SPLASH drip drip” followed by an “I need help. QUICK!” from my mother and a rush for towels.
Mm hm. Welcome to the McGuire family “three ring circus”! Milk in the floor, on my mom, and being licked up off of the floor by my wonderful dog Jasmine (AKA “the vacuum cleaner”). It’s a wonderful, scratch that, CRAZY life…
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Okay, by now most of y’all know that
And because I’m Irish I might be just a tiny bit
Soooo, with that said, here’s something cool I found:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
May the rains fall soft upon your fields
may God hold you in the palm of his hand.
(it’s a traditional Gaelic blessing
I know that I don’t have much blogging “experience”, but I DO know that I would LOOOOOVE for y’all to comment! Thanks!
My original posts can be found by following the links here: The Shack - A Strong Warning and also The Shack Attack!
Excuse me for taking a detour from my current series, but I got an email today from a friend with a link to a sermon, by Michael Youseff, regarding what he refers to as the "13 Heresies" in this book. It has stirred up in me those same feelings I had about the book back in August of last year when I first wrote my articles.
There is a nice outline of the 13 Heresies, if you don't have time to hear the sermon, but there is also a link to the sermon if you'd like to listen to it. The link is http://defendingcontending.com/2010/03/11/sermon-of-the-week-the-shack-uncovered-by-michael-youseff/ .
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to What is good." Romans 12:9
Abiding in His grace,
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Part 2 - What Did I do to Cause This?
In Part 1 of this series A Crisis of Faith we covered a lot of ground. Starting with the idea that all Believers (which is how I will refer to those of us who are followers of Christ throughout the remaining parts of this series) at some point reach that place where we come up against something that is so much bigger than ourselves, and anything that we can handle on our own, and we have to make the decision whether or not we do indeed believe that which we have professed about Jesus Christ and God.
I ended that article with my own personal experience, and the fact that for me, the answers to all of my questions were in fact, “Yes and Amen.” He is in charge completely of my life! I am in complete and total surrender and submission to my Heavenly Father whom I believe to be faithful, just, gracious, merciful, true, and never changing, wanting only that which is for my ultimate good and His unending glory and I rest completely in that truth.
I’ve found that His love for me casts out any fears I may have about the direction He may take my life in at any time. It was just a few years ago that I read the following verses (one I’d seen at least a dozen times) and the light bulb went on, I got it, and felt a huge sigh of relief! 1 John 4:17-19, "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. "
So as we walked together through these steps that we took during the days, months, and years following Kathryn's death, the next issue to come up between Todd and I was – individually “What did I do to cause this?” and collectively, “What did we do to cause this?”
I want to start by saying that bad things do happen often times as a result of poor decisions made. For instance, if I’m sitting in a median waiting to pull out onto a 2 lane road and there are two oncoming 18 wheeler trucks, both within about 35 feet of me and traveling approximately 65 miles an hour, if I pull out in front of these trucks, I can expect that there is a great likelihood I might not survive. That would be a choice I made which brought about really bad consequences. This happens every day, and people “blame” these things, the "bad" things, usually on the devil. Funny how that happens. Human stupidity often gets blamed on the devil, but the things that are just out of our hands completely – like finding out you have cancer – alot of people then presume that God must have been the one that did that. So, let’s investigate what the scripture says about these things, and hopefully bring our thoughts in line with those of scripture.
We do know that the Word teaches that we are to "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:11-13. Much spiritual discernment is needed to know when we may be experiencing spiritual warfare. But sometimes, it takes even more discernment to see when we are experiencing the consequences of poor choices, bad ideas, and difficulties brought on by our own sin.
(If the scriptures are not included in the text here, PLEASE take the time to look up and read the scriptures and to reflect on their message. There is something God wants to show you through every Word in the scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16)
The following is a checklist I use personally to determine where I am in my prayer life and in my personal relationship with Christ, as it relates to difficult circumstances coming into my life. It is imperative as Believers that we be willing corporately (as the body of Christ) and personally (in our own personal relationship to Christ) to ask the hard questions, do what needs doing, to lose our fear of accountability and find a heart that only wants to be laid bare before the Lord, open, waiting and ready for His use. I'm sure this list is borrowed from somewhere. I have no idea where it originally came from, or how I came about getting it. It's been written in the back of my Bible and I've been using it for years now.
BEFORE I PRAY:
- Are all my sins confessed? (Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 66:18; 1 John 1:9)
- Are all of my relationships right before the Lord? (Mathew 18:15-35)
- Am I seeking God’s will in EVERY area of my life? (I John 5:14-15) That includes even those difficult relationships that not too many other people really know about?
- Am I seeking to glorify God in all things? (John 14)
- Am I depending on God to guide me everyday through the power of the Holy Spirit? (Romans 8)
- Do I trust God in spite of what seems to be (the external appearances)? (Prov. 3:5-6)
- Will I praise God no matter how this turns out? (Romans 8:28)
So first of all, in all things, I desire for myself, and I encourage you, to try to be introspective enough to see yourself, as much as possible, the way that God sees you and your sin.
There are definite examples in scripture of sin bringing about consequences. One of the best examples is that ultimately, the child conceived through the adulteress relationship between King David and Bathsheba, resulted in the life of their son being taken. (1 Samuel 12)
As many examples like this that there are, you will find many other examples of God’s mercy and love covering our past sin, and not giving us exactly what we deserve. This is a wonderful thing as parents that we have the opportunity to teach our children – MERCY - an earthly taste of such a wonderful principle. (John 8:2-12)
Next, we must come to understand that every day of our lives is not only numbered, but ordered, before we’re even born! (Psalm 139:16 and 23-24; Psalm 37:23-24; Proverbs 16:9; 19:21.) We have a dear friend that says, “If it’s not my day to die, there’s nothing I can do that will cause it, it will all be thwarted. But, if it’s my day to go, there’s nothing anyone can do to stop that either.” I find it comforting, after having lost loved ones, that I didn’t have to “what if” we’d done this or that myself to death, because I was fully rested in the fact that God has the days of our lives determined, patterned and ordained. That’s a great relief! This is once again, an example of His perfect love casting out all of my fears (1 John 4:18)
I would like to encourage you in this way:
1) Always be ready and willing to take an account of your own actions, beliefs, behaviors, etc… to determine if in fact it is possible that you may be experiencing the chastening of the Lord. Be the first to examine your motives, attitudes, and behaviors to determine if you are “suffering” in some way that has been brought on as a result of sin in your life. “…My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:5-6 If what you are experiencing is the result of sin, REPENT, and be restored to your God, and your fellow man if necessary and if possible.
2) If you’ve made the determination that your sin has not brought this on you, rest in the knowledge that God’s Sovereignty is at work and He is busy causing all things to work together for your good and HIS GLORY!! (Even if you can’t see the good until you get to heaven, you can rest in the assurance that it’s there!!) (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11; Jeremiah 29:11)
3) Lastly, know that if you are in the midst of a current struggle, are reflecting on past struggles, or bracing yourself for the struggles life will one day bring; it is most precious for us as Believers to know that just as He has been in the midst of those throughout scripture, as an example for us, He is in the midst of your situation too, whatever that is! Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:1-9)
You see, in the beginning of our struggle with Kathryn's daignosis, illness and following death, we questioned what we’d done that would cause God to punish us in this way. We came up with a laundry list of things from our past, and decided that if this was the worst God ever did to us; we surely deserved it! But, SERIOUSLY, that is not who God is. His character is not such that He sits around waiting for just the right time to find something that means the absolute most to us and take that one thing to pay us back for all of the wrong we did prior to the beginning of our relationship with Him.
The most important principles we can take from this is that - no matter what happens, or whether or not we ever determine the “WHY?” of the happening, ultimately ALL THINGS happen to bring glory to God, whether it is in the punishment of sin and the offending sinner, grace received by those who do not deserve it, or healing brought about in order that God might be glorified.
I find great beauty in the story in John 9:1-8, "Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is not this he who sat and begged?”
God is indeed in the midst of each of every possible scenario in life. Though the circumstances may be different in your life, from mine, or your neighbors, the one constant that remains is our God and Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ!
Abiding in His Grace and hoping God can use these ramblings to touch someone's heart...